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Boosting Trade in Africa: Why Women Are the Key

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November 1, 2013

In many countries in Africa, the majority of small farmers are women.  They produce crops such as maize, cassava, cotton, and rice that have enormous potential for increased trade between African countries and with the global market.

Women are also involved in providing services across borders, such as education, health, and professional services like accountancy and law.

However, Africa’s trade potential is undermined by constraints that women face. The contribution of women to trade is much less than it could be because of nontariff barriers that impinge particularly heavily on the trade activities of women and women-owned enterprises. These barriers often push women traders and producers into the informal economy where a lack of access to finance, information, and networks jeopardizes their capacity to grow and develop businesses.

Women in Trade in Africa: Realizing the Potential, a new report from the World Bank Group’s Africa Trade Practice, demonstrates how women play a key role in trade in Africa and will be essential to the continent’s success in exploiting its trade potential.

The report calls for African governments to recognize the role that women play in trade and ensure this is communicated to officials at all levels. It asks governments to ensure that the rules and regulations governing trade are clear, transparent and widely available at borders, and encourages policy makers to simplify documents and regulatory requirements where possible. 

Download the full report on the right to learn more.

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